Saturday, October 16, 2021

Nassar survivors join legislators in introducing package of bills

February 26, 2018
Rachael Denhollander addresses the court during her victim impact statement on the second day of sentencing for Larry Nassar on Feb. 2, 2018, in the Eaton County courtroom. Nassar faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton. Denhollander was the first women to publicly accuse Nassar of abuse. (Annie Barker | State News)
Rachael Denhollander addresses the court during her victim impact statement on the second day of sentencing for Larry Nassar on Feb. 2, 2018, in the Eaton County courtroom. Nassar faces three counts of criminal sexual conduct in Eaton. Denhollander was the first women to publicly accuse Nassar of abuse. (Annie Barker | State News) —

Sen. Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, introduced a 10-bill package aimed at stopping sexual abuse to the Michigan House and Senate Monday afternoon.

The following legislators are sponsoring the bills, in addition to O'Brien: Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren; Rep. Diana Farrington, R-Utica; Rep. Beth Griffin, R-Mattawan; Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing; Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth; Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge; Sen. David Knezek, D-Detroit; Sen. Marty Knollenberg, R-Troy; and Rep. Leslie Love, D-Detroit.

The bills follow the sentencing of ex-MSU and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar on 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct in Ingham and Eaton County. More than 250 women and girls have said Nassar abused them.

The bills do the following, according to the Detroit Free Press:

  • Extend the statute of limitations for civil and criminal sexual abuse claims to 30 years after a person's 18th birthday;
  • Increase the penalties for possessing child pornography;
  • Expand the number of people who are mandated to report complaints of sexual abuse to include coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists and increase the penalties for failing to report cases.
  • Clarify the law to ensure that governmental entities, including universities and colleges, do not have immunity from civil or criminal cases of sexual assault.

Survivors Rachael Denhollander, Lindsey Lemke, Sterling Riethman, Amanda Thomashaw, Larissa Boyce and Jordyn Wieber spoke at the press conference announcing the bills. 

Revising the statute of limitations for reporting sexual assault will help childhood victims, Denhollander said during a livestream of the press conference. 

"The leaders listened, they cared, they cared before it hit the national press," Denhollander said during the livestream. "I am grateful for their leadership."

She added that leaders need to care about children, not just what the lobbyists want.

"How much is a child worth, how much is a human being worth?" Denhollander said.

The legislation needs to pass before the summer recess to show that legislators care about children, Denhollander said. The longer the bills sit in committees without passing, the more it shows that legislators do not care.

Attorney General Bill Schuette gave a statement about the bills.

"The leadership, courage, determination of the survivors of Nassar is remarkable, and the legislation introduced today was written with their guidance and voices," Schuette said in a press release. "I encourage our Representatives and Senators to pass legislation that will protect survivors of sexual abuse and deter those who may become abusers. The words of the young women assaulted by Nassar have changed the world, the most important focus must be the survivors, and how to prevent sexual abuse in the future.”

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